31826

Revelation, 12 August 1831 [D&C 61]

641

John Whitmer assigned this number to the revelation when recording it in Revelation Book 1.  


Commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
given Aug 12th. 1831 on the Bank of the River Distruction (or Missorie)

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

More Info
unfolding some mysteries &c &c——2

This heading likely did not appear in the original manuscript; John Whitmer likely added it when he copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1.  


Behold & hearken unto the voice of him who hath all power3

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 528 [Mormon 5:23].  


who is from everlasting to everlasting4

See Psalm 90:2.  


even alpha & omega the begining & the end5

See Revelation 1:8; 21:6; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 473–474 [3 Nephi 9:18]; Revelation, 7 Dec. 1830 [D&C 35:1]; and Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:1].  


Behold verily thuss saith the lord unto you O ye Elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
of my Church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
who are assembled upon this spot6

A later JS history states that ten elders left Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, with JS. These were likely Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Gilbert, William W. Phelps, Reynolds Cahoon, and Samuel Smith (all mentioned in the revelation); Ezra Booth, Frederick G. Williams, and Peter Whitmer Jr. (mentioned in Booth’s account of the journey); and Joseph Coe (Coe reported arriving in Kirtland, Ohio, on 1 September, the same day that Booth arrived). (JS History, vol. A-1, 142; Ezra Booth, “Mormonism No. VII,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 24 Nov. 1831, [1]; Joseph Coe, Report, 7 Mar. 1832, Missionary Reports, 1831–1900, CHL.)  


whose sins are now forgiven you for I the Lord forgiveth sins7

See Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:42].  


& am mercyfull unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts but verily I say unto you that it is not needfull for this whole company of mine Elders to be moveing swiftly upon the waters whilst the Inhabitants on either sides are perishing in unbelief nevertheless I suffered it that ye might bear record Behold there are many dangers upon the waters & more especially hereafter for I the Lord have decreed in mine anger many distructions upon the waters yea & especially upon these waters nevertheless all flesh is in mine hand8

See Old Testament Revision 1, p. 21 [Moses 6:32].  


he that is faithfull among you shall not perish by the waters wherefore it is expedient that my servent Sidney Gilbert

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

View Full Bio
& my servent William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

View Full Bio
be in haste upon their errand & mission9

A July 1831 revelation instructed Gilbert to establish a store in Independence and appointed Phelps a “Printer unto the Church.” According to a 5–7 August letter from Edward Partridge, Gilbert and Phelps were returning to Ohio “to procure the necessaries for their establishments.” (Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:8–11]; Edward Partridge, Independence, MO, to Lydia Clisbee Partridge, 5–7 Aug. 1831, [1], Edward Partridge, Letters, 1831–1835, CHL.)  


nevertheless I would not suffer that ye should part untill you are chastened for all your sins that you might be one10

See Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:27].  


that you might not perish in wickedness but now verily I say it [p. 101]
641

John Whitmer assigned this number to the revelation when recording it in Revelation Book 1.  


Commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
given Aug 12th. 1831  on the Bank of the River Distruction (or Missorie)

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

More Info
unfolding  some mysteries &c &c——2

This heading likely did not appear in the original manuscript; John Whitmer likely added it when he copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1.  


Behold & hearken unto him the voice of him who hath all power3

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 528 [Mormon 5:23].  


who is  from everlasting to everlasting4

See Psalm 90:2.  


even alpha & omega the begining & the  end5

See Revelation 1:8; 21:6; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 473–474 [3 Nephi 9:18]; Revelation, 7 Dec. 1830 [D&C 35:1]; and Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:1].  


Behold verily thuss saith the lord unto you O ye Elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
of my  Church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
who are assembled upon this spot6

A later JS history states that ten elders left Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, with JS. These were likely Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Gilbert, William W. Phelps, Reynolds Cahoon, and Samuel Smith (all mentioned in the revelation); Ezra Booth, Frederick G. Williams, and Peter Whitmer Jr. (mentioned in Booth’s account of the journey); and Joseph Coe (Coe reported arriving in Kirtland, Ohio, on 1 September, the same day that Booth arrived). (JS History, vol. A-1, 142; Ezra Booth, “Mormonism No. VII,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 24 Nov. 1831, [1]; Joseph Coe, Report, 7 Mar. 1832, Missionary Reports, 1831–1900, CHL.)  


whose sins are now forgiven  you for I the Lord forgiveth sins7

See Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:42].  


& am mercyfull unto those who confess  their sins with humble hearts but verily I say unto you that it is not  needfull for this whole company of mine Elders to be moveing swiftly  upon the waters whilst the Inhabitants on either sides are perishing  in unbelief nevertheless I suffered it that ye might bear record Behold  there are many dangers upon the waters & more especially hereafte r for I the Lord have decreed in mine anger many distructions  upon the waters yea & especially upon these waters nevertheless  all flesh is in mine hand8

See Old Testament Revision 1, p. 21 [Moses 6:32].  


he that is faithfull among you shall  not perish by the waters wherefore it is expedient that my servent  Sidney Gilbert

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

View Full Bio
& <my servent> William [W.] Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

View Full Bio
be in haste upon their errand  & mission9

A July 1831 revelation instructed Gilbert to establish a store in Independence and appointed Phelps a “Printer unto the Church.” According to a 5–7 August letter from Edward Partridge, Gilbert and Phelps were returning to Ohio “to procure the necessaries for their establishments.” (Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:8–11]; Edward Partridge, Independence, MO, to Lydia Clisbee Partridge, 5–7 Aug. 1831, [1], Edward Partridge, Letters, 1831–1835, CHL.)  


nevertheless I would not suffer that ye should part  untill ye you are chastened for all your sins that you might be one10

See Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:27].  


 that you might not perish in wickedness but now verily I say it [p. 101]
Next
Having overseen the dedication of the land for the establishment of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

View Glossary
, JS departed Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

More Info
, Jackson County, Missouri, for Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

More Info
on 9 August 1831 in the company of ten elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
. On 12 August, at a location on the Missouri River

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

More Info
that a later JS history calls “McIlwaine’s Bend,” JS dictated a revelation explaining the many dangers that existed on the river and instructing most of those returning to Ohio to leave the water and travel by land.1

JS History, vol. A-1, 142. Reynolds Cahoon noted in his journal that the group traveled for “about 100 mile[s]” towards St. Louis before leaving the river, indicating that JS dictated the revelation approximately one hundred miles downstream from Independence. In Sidney Gilbert’s copy of the revelation, he gave the location as “on the Banks of the Missouri about 40 miles above Chairton [Chariton].” McIlwaine’s Bend was, therefore, probably at a site five miles west of Miami, Saline County, Missouri, and may have been what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1878 called Teteseau Bend, “an abrupt four-mile southward U-shaped bend.” This bend no longer exists because the river’s channel has changed. William Clark may have referred to this same bend when he wrote in his journal that his expedition with Meriwether Lewis was passing through “the worst part” of the Missouri River in June 1804—a time when they were traveling just west of the area where Miami was later established. (Cahoon, Diary, 9 Aug. 1831; Gilbert, Notebook, [37]; Berrett, Sacred Places, 4:138–139; Moulton and Dunlay, Journals of Lewis and Clark, 2:301–302.)  


The content of the revelation reflected experiences JS and his group had gone through as they made their way to St. Louis

Located on west side of Mississippi River about fifteen miles south of confluence with Missouri River. Founded as fur-trading post by French settlers, 1764. Incorporated as town, 1809. First Mississippi steamboat docked by town, 1817. Incorporated as city...

More Info
, Missouri. Although nothing eventful occurred in the first day or two of their journey,2

JS History, vol. A-1, 142.  


discord apparently arose within the group when Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
chastised some of the elders for inappropriate conduct and warned them that misfortune would befall them if they did not repent. Soon after, a sawyer—a submerged tree anchored to the bottom of the river—nearly capsized the canoe carrying JS and Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

View Full Bio
. Unnerved by this encounter, JS instructed the group to exit the water and camp for the night.3

Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 24 Nov. 1831, [1].  


According to a later JS history, William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

View Full Bio
then experienced “an open vision, by daylight,” of “the Destroyer, in his most horrible power, rid[ing] upon the face of the waters.”4

JS History, vol. A-1, 142. Neither Ezra Booth nor Reynolds Cahoon—two members of the group who wrote contemporary accounts of the journey—mentioned Phelps’s vision. Since Phelps helped prepare this section of JS’s history, the information about the vision likely came directly from him. (See Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 24 Nov. 1831, [1]; Cahoon, Diary, 9 Aug. 1831; see also Jessee, “Writing of Joseph Smith’s History,” 441.)  


The contention within the group was resolved later that night, and JS dictated the revelation the next morning.5

Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 24 Nov. 1831, [1].  


The revelation stated that God had permitted the elders to travel via the Missouri River

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

More Info
to St. Louis

Located on west side of Mississippi River about fifteen miles south of confluence with Missouri River. Founded as fur-trading post by French settlers, 1764. Incorporated as town, 1809. First Mississippi steamboat docked by town, 1817. Incorporated as city...

More Info
, as instructed in an 8 August revelation,6

Revelation, 8 Aug. 1831 [D&C 60:5] .  


so that they could testify of the dangers on the water and warn church members not to travel to Zion

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, designated Missouri as “land of promise” for gathering of Saints and place for “city of Zion,” with Independence area as “center place” of Zion. Latter-day Saint settlements elsewhere, such as in Kirtland, Ohio, became known...

More Info
on the river. At the time, the Missouri River was considered navigable only approximately three months out of the year. An 1837 Missouri gazetteer referred to the “mad water” of the river and noted that “freights and ensurance and pilot-wages” were higher for Missouri River navigation than for other waterways because of “the dangers of the ever-varying channel of the river.”7

Wetmore, Gazetteer of the State of Missouri, 33–35.  


Other publications noted the frequent occurrence of sawyers, which were “the most formidable dangers to navigation of the river” and caused 70 percent of all steamboat wrecks. “These snags were the terror of the pilot,” according to an early history of Missouri River navigation,8

Chittenden, History of Early Steamboat Navigation, 1:80–81.  


and were perhaps one reason for John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

View Full Bio
’s designation of the river in the revelation’s heading as “the River Distruction.”9

Ezra Booth also explained that after the dictation of the revelation, “the Missouri river was named the river of Destruction.” (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII, Ohio Star [Ravenna], 24 Nov. 1831, [1].)  


After speaking to some of the elders who journeyed to Missouri, Elizabeth Godkin Marsh

By 1800–1854. Married Thomas B. Marsh, 1 Nov. 1820, in New York City. Moved to Boston, 1822. Moved to Palmyra, Wayne Co., New York, by Sept. 1830. Likely baptized into LDS church, Sept. 1830. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, Spring 1831. Moved to Jackson...

View Full Bio
relayed that the river “is always rily and bubly and looks mad as if it had been cursed.”10

Elizabeth Godkin Marsh, Kirtland Mills, OH, to Lewis Abbott and Ann Abbott, East Sudbury, MA, Sept. [1831], Abbott Family Collection, CHL.  


The revelation emphasized again the need for the elders to proclaim the gospel as they journeyed home and gave specific instructions to JS, Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

View Full Bio
, and Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
to forego traveling on the river. Thereafter, JS, Rigdon, and Cowdery traveled by land to St. Louis and then took a stagecoach to Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
, Ohio, by way of Cincinnati

Area settled largely by emigrants from New England and New Jersey, by 1788. Village founded and surveyed adjacent to site of Fort Washington, 1789. First seat of legislature of Northwest Territory, 1790. Incorporated as city, 1819. Developed rapidly as shipping...

More Info
.11

JS History, vol. A-1, 146; Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 24 Nov. 1831, [1].  


The original manuscript of this revelation is not extant. Presumably, either Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
or Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

View Full Bio
, two of JS’s scribes, wrote the revelation as JS dictated it. Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

View Full Bio
copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1, probably shortly after JS, Rigdon, and Cowdery returned to Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
, Ohio. Sidney Gilbert

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

View Full Bio
also made a copy in a book of revelations he was keeping, probably in this same time period.12

Gilbert, Notebook, [37]–[45].  


Facts